For the first time in its 58 years, a Sham Shui Po kindergarten has received applications from the mainland and the New Territories as pressure from cross-border children spills into districts outside the border area.
Yau Yat Chuen School principal Lee Ming-chu said her kindergarten had received more than 200 forms from North District, Tai Po, Yuen Long and the mainland, putting huge pressure on staff. She said the problem had now spread to Kowloon from the northern districts, where schools had been overwhelmed with cross-border applications.
"I expected this years ago when the government allowed mainland mothers to give birth here," Lee said. "Only the government didn't see this."
She said that if officials did not collect data on children born to mainland parents in Hong Kong and project a trend on their likelihood to return for studies, there could be more serious problems next year.
Faced with 2,300 forms compared with 1,600 last year, Lee said the school would interview children from its own district first. She was not sure if they could deal with the more than 50 mainland applications, most of which came in three packages, making her suspect they were mailed by agencies.
Yung Hau-heung, the Professional Teachers' Union's early-childhood spokeswoman, said many North District principals complained at a meeting last week that the government had asked them to give out unlimited numbers of forms without providing them with extra manpower to deal with the additional forms, which came in the hundreds and thousands.
"Teachers are all panicking," she said. "Does that mean they should conduct an unlimited number of interviews? Many principals worry their teachers might leave next year and they'll be unable to hire more."
Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said kindergarten staff turnover rate in 2011 was about 22 per cent and the situation had not improved this year. He said the Education Bureau should give additional allowances to North District teachers, who were facing a lot of work.
After a meeting with Undersecretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, the Yuen Long Kindergarten Principals' Association said kindergartens in the district had received 70 per cent more forms than last year, but that they could deal with them.